Harnett County sixth-grader gets threatening email at school
Posted May 12
Spring Lake, N.C. — Cynthia Newby's office is filled with small tokens from her little girl.
The 11-year-old is her pride and joy, so Newby was naturally concerned when the sixth-grader at Overhills Middle School in Spring Lake called her last month crying.
"(She said), 'I am calling to let you know that I am OK, but I am calling to let you know that I received a horrible threat,'" Newby said Monday.
It was a threat of sexual assault.
Newby said it arrived at the girl's email – a Google Mail account issued to students and monitored by Harnett County Schools.
School officials say they investigated the threat and determined the message was sent from another student's email who apparently forgot to log off.
"Whether they were just trying to play a joke or if they truly intended that content, it just feels like I have to jump out and protect her," Newby said.
Newby said more needs to be done to make sure this doesn't happen again.
"Our school and technology staff work diligently to provide students with the necessary technology while still ensuring their safety," Patricia Harmon-Lewis, public relations director for Harnett County Schools, said in an email Monday.
The school has filters to block pornography and graphic images on computers, but there is nothing to block inappropriate text because it would prohibit students from doing research and completing assignments.
"While no content filtering system is perfect, our technology staff has provided protection that goes above and beyond state, federal and Children Internet Protection Act requirements," Harmon-Lewis said.
She added that said parents who don't want their child to have independent access to the Internet at school can inform the school.